Fighting food allergy

Fighting food allergy
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First Published: Tue, Jul 10 2007. 12 17 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Jul 10 2007. 12 17 AM IST
Soon after the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology reported that more than 5% of adults in the US suffer from food allergies, news came early this month that British scientists might have found a possible cure. According to a team of researchers at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, led by Claudio Nicoletti, a molecule called interleukin-12, absent during the body’s allergic response, can protect against food allergies.
“We have identified a molecule that is very important for the regulation of immune response and, for the first time, clearly represents a potential target for the therapy of allergy. This is currently under investigation,” Nicoletti was quoted as saying by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
If this research leads to a cure, it could spell hope for 12 million Americans currently thought to be allergic to various foods. The most common food allergens—referred to as The Big Eight—are milk and other dairy foods, fish, eggs, crustaceans such as lobster and shrimp, walnuts, peanuts, soya and wheat.
Although there is no real data on food allergies among the Indian populace, in the western world, estimates are that one in 70 schoolchildren could be suffering from peanut allergy. In India, chickpea allergy is widely prevalent as is allergy to milk proteins.
Other food allergies seen occasionally are to some type of fruit or vegetable, chocolate, a food additive, or shellfish. While allergies to egg and milk resolve on their own by three-five years in about 80% of children, for the other food allergies, so far, there has been no cure other than avoiding the offending foods. For some people, food allergies can be life-threatening, causing anaphylactic shock. For others, reaction could be less severe and cause hives, stomach discomfort and respiratory problems.
During a food allergy, the immune system responds to a food protein as if it is harmful. Skin prick tests and blood tests are available to test for food allergy.
Interestingly, Indian Ayurvedic doctors seem to have their own strategies for food allergy. The concept of prakriti and the properties of food is applied by Ayurvedic practitioners Carefully selecting the foods in accordance with the individual’s body constitution and seasonal alterations, is considered as the best strategy to combat food allergy, according to Ayurveda.
New sterilization device
British researchers have found that a lot of women are satisfied with a new sterilization device that can be implanted without general anaesthesia or sedation, and does not require patients to be admitted. Most women seeking to be sterilized now have their fallopian tubes “tied” or blocked, which involves surgery and four to six days of recovery. The FDA-approved sterilization device—Conceptus Inc.’s Essure—uses a tiny group of coils to sterilize a woman without surgery. During implantation, the physician inserts one of the devices into each of the two fallopian tubes. This is done with a catheter that is inserted through the vagina into the uterus, and then into the fallopian tube.
The device works by inducing scar tissue to form over the implant, blocking the fallopian tube and preventing fertilization of the egg by the sperm. It takes three months to start working reliably. “In general, I think it is an excellent technology,” said senior investigator T. Justin Clark, who carried out a survey of the device on 112 women at Birmingham’s Women’s Hospital. (Reuters)
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First Published: Tue, Jul 10 2007. 12 17 AM IST
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